Neskey-Coghlan Fellowship Program to Advance Care for Patients with Balance, Vestibular Disorders

June 11, 2014

Contact: Mary Leach

BOSTON (June 11, 2014) -- Harvard Medical School’s Department of Otolaryngology recently announced the establishment of the Neskey-Coghlan Fellowship in Balance and Vestibular Disorders, a one-year post-residency fellowship program based at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, to train qualified physicians in the diagnosis and management of patients with balance and vestibular disorders.

Dr. Steven Rauch with Sharon and David Neskey.

Dr. Steven Rauch (left) with Sharon and David Neskey.

This specialized fellowship program was made possible through the generosity of Mr. David Neskey, his wife Sharon, and his friends Paul and Tina Coghlan. A long-time patient of Dr. Steven D. Rauch, Mr. Neskey suffers from hearing loss and vestibular problems as a result of Meniere’s Disease. He has also been a friend and trustee of Mass. Eye and Ear for many years.

Up to 40 percent of Americans visit a doctor at some point in their lives with complaints of dizziness and imbalance. For senior citizens, these symptoms can lead to falls, which account for 50 percent of accidental deaths.

However, unearthing the cause and managing these symptoms can be challenging, and often involves input from a diverse group of medical specialties. For this large group of patients, finding one specialist to manage their care can be difficult.

“There is a real shortage of physicians, globally, who specialize in the evaluation and management of people with vestibular disorders,” said Dr. Rauch, who is Medical Director, Mass. Eye and Ear Balance and Vestibular Center, and Harvard Medical School Professor of Otology and Laryngology, who will direct the fellowship program. “Patients who have balance problems suffer in our healthcare system because our sense of balance involves information from the ears, the eyes, the muscles and joints sending signals up the spine. There is no one specialty that owns all of that system.”

With four clinicians who specialize in the evaluation and management of dizzy and off-balance patients, two state-of-the-art vestibular diagnostic laboratories (one in Boston and another in Braintree), and a high volume of dizzy patients, Mass. Eye and Ear offers the ideal environment for training future specialists in balance disorders.

“We are fortunate in this department that we have a collection of otologists and neurologists who specialize in the management of balance and dizziness disorders,” Dr. Rauch said. “The way that we can really leverage our expertise and help people is to train more doctors who specialize in this area and to send them out to populate clinics and departments all over the world.”

The first fellow selected will start in July 2015. The one-year post-residency fellowship will comprise a minimum of 75 percent time commitment to clinical training and patient care under faculty supervision, with the remainder of time dedicated to clinical research, didactic, and other scholarly career development. Candidates will be drawn from specialties in which physicians may have an interest in balance problems, including (but not limited to) otolaryngology and neurology. For more information about the fellowship, please contact Mass. Eye and Ear's Otolaryngology Education Office at 617-573-3652 or visit this webpage.